Winter Spreading Tips and Crop Residue

Is winter manure spreading still allowed in Pennsylvania?  Yes.

Are there restrictions and setbacks?  YES!

According to “Land Application of Manure; A Supplement to Manure Management for Environmental Protection” the season of Winter is defined as

  1. December 15 through February 28; or
  2. Anytime the ground is frozen at least 4 inches deep; or
  3. Anytime the ground is snow covered.

Winter application is discouraged.  Solid manure stacking and liquid manure storage is encouraged to allow for application on fields when it is not frozen or snow covered, but is currently not required in PA.

Also, as written in “Land Application of Manure; A Supplement to Manure Management for Environmental Protection”, farmers who apply manure in Winter need to meet the following criteria:

  1. The maximum application rate for the winter season is 5,000 gallons per acre of liquid manure or 20 tons per acre of dry non-poultry manure or 3 tons per acre of dry poultry manure per acre.  As an alternative maximum rate, a farmer can choose to calculate and apply manure to the phosphorus removal rate for the coming year’s crops.
  2. A setback of 100 feet from an above ground inlet to an agricultural drainage system (such as inlet pipes to piped outlet terraces) where surface flow is toward the above ground inlet.
  3. All fields must have at least 25% crop residue at application time or an established and growing cover crop.  Hay fields, sod and pasture fields and fields with an established cover crop should be given highest priority for winter application.
    1. The 25% crop residue provision would generally exclude winter manure application to corn silage fields that do not have an established cover crop, corn grain fields where a significant portion of the fodder has been removed, and low yielding soybean fields.
  4. Manure may not be applied during Winter on fields with slopes greater than 15%.  NRCS soil survey slope designations of “A”, “B” or “C” slopes are acceptable for Winter application.
    1. When reading a soils map, the last letter (for example; the “B” in HaB) indicates the slope of the field.  “A” slopes are 0-3%.  “B” slopes are 3-8%.  “C” slopes are 8-15%.
  5. An application setback of 100 feet from the top of the bank of a stream which generally flows during the Winter or Spring, and within 100 feet of a lake or a pond, along with all the other application setbacks outlined earlier in this section.

When determining what percentage crop residue cover looks like, be sure to look DOWN at the fields, not across the fields.  For assistance with determining what 25% corn and soybean crop residue looks like, refer to http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/WA/A.12_Corn&SoybeanCrop_ResidueManagementGuide.pdf

For assistance determining what 25% wheat residue looks like, refer to http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs144p2_042684.pdf

Additional information is available at http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/ny/home/?cid=nrcs144p2_027241#guide

Pictures of 25% ground cover were not available, but estimates can be made by looking at 20% and 30% residue and aiming for residue amounts in between these two photos.  Or residue counts can be done by a farmer for more accuracy. Instructions for doing your own residue counts are below. (Photos and captions courtesy of USDA NRCS.)

20 percent ground cover This level of residue might be expected from a fall chisel with twisted shanks, a spring shallow disking, a field cultivation, and planting.

20 percent ground cover
This level of residue might be expected from a fall chisel with twisted shanks, a spring shallow disking, a field cultivation, and planting.

30 percent ground cover This level of residue might be expected from one fall chisel with straight shanks, a shallow disking in the spring, a field cultivation, and planting.

30 percent ground cover
This level of residue might be expected from one fall chisel with straight shanks, a shallow disking in the spring, a field cultivation, and planting.

 

Additional information on measuring residue before applying manure in the winter can be found at http://efotg.sc.egov.usda.gov/references/public/NE/PS4%28Crop_Residue_Management%29.pdf   For basic information, NRCS uses the following method to measure residue after planting:

  1. Use any line, rope or tape that is equally divided into 100 parts with a mark every 6 or 12 inches.
  2. Choose representative locations in the field.
  3. Stretch the line diagonally across the rows.
  4. Select a point on each mark along one edge of the line. Make sure to use the same point on each mark.
  5. Look straight down on each point. Do not count residue smaller than 3/32 inch in diameter.
  6. Walk the entire length of the line, rope or tape. Count the total number of points with residue under them. That count will be the percent cover for the field.
  7. Repeat the procedure at least five times in different areas of the field and average the findings.

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